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Under Pressure, Obasanjo Explains Absence At Shagari’s Birthday Ceremony



FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, expressed dissatisfaction with some media reports over his absence at the 90th birthday ceremony of former President Shehu Shagari in Sokoto last week.

   The former head of state having left Abeokuta at about 6.45pm in order to catch up with his colleagues in Sokoto State, including Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babagida, Abdulsalam Abubakar, former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shoneka, and President Goodluck Jonathan, who were at the ceremony, where a commemorative cake, marking the 90th birthday, was cut.

    Former Head of State and All Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) Presidential candidate, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, was also absent due to his engagement outside the country.

   But Obasanjo, in a statement made available to journalists in Abeokuta yesterday, reacted to the reports, describing it as unfortunate. According to the former President, “I have read with dismay the imputation of some section of the media to the unfortunate incident of my not being able to be with my colleagues at the birthday celebration of former President Shehu Shagari on Wednesday, February, 25.”

   Obasanjo explained that, having left Abeokuta at about 6.45pm to catch up with his colleagues in Sokoto, his entourage ran into heavy road traffic on the fateful day, a situation that caused the delay.

     His words: “Leaving Abeokuta at 6:45am and hoping to fly out of Lagos airport at 8:30am, to Sokoto, we ran into a very bad traffic hold-up that made me get to Lagos airport at 10:45am.

   “I did not arrive at Shagari’s house until mid-day by which time the team of my colleagues had left. It is a pity that the media did not report my profuse apologies to both Shagari and other colleagues when I spoke at Shagari’s house,” the statement disclosed.

   The former President noted, “I have no cause to dodge, avoid or snub my colleagues for what we all agreed to do together.”

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